Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Language Cop Twitterpated

It is two weeks until the National Election. The race is close and the insults are flying from both sides of the aisle. It is tiresome. Apparently there are STILL undecided voters out there who can sway this election, but how anyone could be undecided at this point is mind boggling to me. There is a clear choice because the candidates and their visions for this country are very distinct from one another. Pick somebody, it does not matter who you vote for, as long as you are informed and vote.
Like many voters, I know who I’m voting for and really don’t want to hear anything more from ANYBODY because it has become tiresome and mean.  No one is going to change my mind now and I doubt there are others whose position will shift based on the negative campaigning. Only the meanest among us  are still listening to all this nonsense and that’s simply  to give their meanness more fuel.  I know I’m old, but I really  don’t remember things being so mean spirited when I was a kid.

There are times when the politics is simply an outlet for meanness; the speaker is just a mean person and uses politics as a screen to hurl invectives.  I believe Ann Coulter falls into that category. She is known as  a “conservative pundit.” While I agree that she is indeed conservative, I do not believe that she speaks for anyone but mean people when she repeatedly uses the word “retard” to describe people for whom she has no respect.  She has used it to refer to people who support President Obama and last night used it on twitter to describe the President himself.  How can there be such an utter disregard for decency by someone in a position like hers?  She is unrepentant, however, tweeting later that “only people too retarded to get it will care.”

Coulter does not speak or tweet for anyone but herself and other mean spirited people who lack grace and decorum . Decent minded conservatives are distancing themselves from her and calling her out on the remark.  Conservative Michele Malkin  from the social media website Twitchy responded “what a shallow stupid thing to say Ann.”  I cannot imagine this is something  Mitt Romney’s  people would endorse. I can only hope they condemn it.

Ann Coulter is not the first famous person, or even the first partisan person to use this word. Rahm Emanuel did so when he was President Obama’s chief of Staff. (I wrote about that too. See this post  or any of the other nine posts under the tab "Language Cop"). Sarah Palin, the mother of a child with intellectual disabilities took great offense and demanded that Obama fire Emanuel.  I hope Sarah Palin is equally outraged now that it is coming from a conservative. (She was strangely quiet when the word was used by a  County Republican party chief in Pennsylvania, but that was not a national stage.)  I hope too that people are outraged that someone could show such utter disregard for the office of the President of the United States, regardless of their politics.

I have waxed poetic on this issue many times in the past. The use of this word is mind-boggling to me. How can people call a sweater “retarded” or refer to another person as “retarded” as a synonym for stupid. Anyone who uses that word reveals more about themselves than anything else. They reveal their complete lack of intellect, compassion and sensitivity. There is a concerted effort to rid the world of this word. If you are so inclined, please go to this website - www.r-word.org -.and take the pledge not to use it 

And then take action. When you hear someone use it, educate them. Tell them it is insensitive. Tell them it is not a synonym for “stupid” or “dumb” or anything of the like. Most people do not even realize they say it and as soon as they learn that they are offending people they stop. Because most people are nice and want to do the right thing.     

Before you tell me about Freedom of Speech, believe me I know. I am not questioning her RIGHT to say it or anyone else’s right either. I am delighted she has that right just as I have the right to say this. She has the right to disagree with me and I with her. That is the basis of what makes this country work.  But, we all know freedom isn’t free. There is a price for offending people with your words. There are consequences for saying certain things.  Don’t believe me? ask Don Imus, the former shock jock who disappeared from the airwaves after an especially offensive comment in 2007. No one denied his freedom of speech – he just lost his audience. He was completely off the air for awhile. I believe he's back now, but he's irrelevant. 

My fervent hope is that the good people will stand up to the bullies, that Ann Coulter and anyone else who thinks it’s ok and amusing to use such a hurtful term will lose their audience.  If I cannot get to her, I will get to her audience.  Do not listen to her. Do not tune in shows that give her or anyone else who uses that term a say. Make them pay the price, make them irrelevant.   

Because if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear it, it does not make a sound.

And in this case silence really would be golden.


Addendum 10/24- This letter/response  to Ann Coulter was written by a man with Down Syndrome. Eloquence and grace exudes from every word. If you haven't read it, please click below. It would indeed be a badge of honor to be compared to you, Mr. Stephens.


1 comment:

  1. Have you seen this letter? It makes me want to give that man a standing ovation from my desk. He schools her with grace, eloquence, and even kindness towards the bully.



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